Boutique Real Estate Brokerage The Agency Aims for International Growth

Boutique Real Estate Brokerage The Agency Aims for International Growth


Vice President Billy Rose, CEO Mauricio Umansky and President Rainy Hake Austin.

What began as a small Beverly Hills-based real estate agency has grown to more than 800 agents and 50 markets, with plans for further expansion.

In the 10 years since the luxury boutique brokerage The Agency was founded by real estate veterans Mauricio Umansky and Billy Rose, the company has been growing rapidly, but Rose and Umansky said it had its roots as a boutique brokerage with a focus on. Has stayed true to culture and offers its agents and clients a different experience than other brokerage firms.

“I felt that the industry was very archaic and ancient in the way they worked, and I didn’t feel that there was any innovation in the industry,” Umansky said of the reasons why he did that Company founded. He added that he felt he could teach others what he’d learned in his years as an agent.

Rose had started a networking group before starting The Agency after working as an entertainment lawyer and talent agent before getting into real estate. He said he had “moved from one company to another” and “observed that the brokerage itself had become meaningless”.

“Brokerage firms became WeWorks,” he said, adding that agents from the same brokerage firm often competed with one another.
When Umansky, who was in the networking group, came up with the idea for The Agency, with the aim of adding some meaning to the overall delivery, Rose said, “Let’s do it.”

A big change for the company came last year when Rainy Austin was hired as president.

“When we started I wore so many different hats – General Counselor, Broker of Record, COO, Recruiter – we were and I was lucky that we could expand and get big enough that we were.” Hire people who wear all these different hats, ”said Rose.

He added that neither he nor Umansky had previously run a large company, which Austin was able to do.
Austin has been in real estate for more than 25 years, most recently as Head of Western Operations at Compass.

Austin said that she missed working at a boutique firm and wanted more of an impact on overall strategy, which is why she joined The Agency. Under her leadership, the company continued to grow and opened additional franchise locations.

Sale through presentation

From the beginning, Umansky said, The Agency separated through the use of technology and a collaborative culture.

The agency’s software, he said, enables agents to be more efficient, for example by using artificial intelligence to help people make smarter decisions, Austin said.
The brokerage firm also emphasized the importance of showcasing an ambitious lifestyle that buyers would have in the homes they display.

Instead of a mailer, this meant holding open houses that were reminiscent of lavish parties and finding creative ways to showcase the house.
“We started selling real estate through storytelling,” said Umansky. “We have created a dynamic change in the way we built the company and the way we marketed and advertised real estate.”

The company also values ​​culture and collaboration.
“You can help someone who is less experienced, or who is entering a new market or needs a step up, by improving their creditworthiness through what we do as a collective agency,” said Rose. “The other agents would kill you if you talked about any of their sales.”
Senior agents like Umansky often partner with newer agents and share their big sales as an accomplishment of brokerage, not just of the individual, Austin said. Umansky added that he believes the agency wins listings because their agents band together instead of fighting for listings.

“Obviously, if you can all work together … you’re going to do a lot better than doing it all by yourself,” said Rose. “We really made younger agents stand out by giving them lots of resources.”

Umansky said he places a lot of emphasis on market share rather than agent count as a measure of success, and is working on only adding people who fit in the company rather than filling out a quota for the number of agents to be hired.
Austin said The Agency now has “a waiting list of people who will turn to us and love the brand.”

“It takes time to find the right fit and make sure the right person is who we hire the first time,” she added.
And while a number of agents have moved from one brokerage firm to another over the past several years, The Agency works to retain talent by “recruiting our existing agents” rather than just focusing on growth, according to Austin. This also includes showing the value of mediation.

A big name that joined The Agency in 2014 was Santiago Arana. He led the company’s expansion on the Westside, managed the Brentwood and Pacific Palisades offices and opened more on the Westside.
“It was important for me to be involved in the development of something great,” said Arana of the reason for joining, adding that he believed the traditional brokerage model was “broken”.

Arana said when he joined the company he brought a large share of the market west of the 405 and a number of agents.
“From that point on it just exploded,” he said.

Growth through franchising

The company has historically not leveraged, received a private equity growth mandate or borrowed capital and has instead grown from its profits. But that strategy could change.

“We are very excited to go forward and look for growth capital and we look forward to bringing that in, but we want to be strategic about what we bring in,” said Umansky.
And with a view to future growth, the company also intends to grow through franchise offices.

In 2016, the company opened its first franchise office in Los Cabos, Mexico.
Today the company is 50% franchise and 50% owned and operated by around 25 each. Umansky said he anticipates this will continue as the company grows.
Company bosses jokingly say that they want to be in cities where Umansky likes to go on vacation.

“We want to be in the luxury locations that our customers are likely to be,” added Rose. “We want to be where there is movement, mobility, luxury.”
Company owned and operated locations will be in California and New York City, while other areas will be franchise locations.

“We found that if we were able to find like-minded people, we could create something very synergistic,” said Austin. “We are able to use the luxury lifestyle brand.”

The company’s goal now is to open new franchise locations around the world. It opened its first European office in Amsterdam this year and has more overseas locations planned for next year.
The franchise locations receive the same technology and culture as the company’s own locations.

And with a view to the future, executives agree that the company is ready for further growth.

“It’s been a very, very exciting time at The Agency right now,” said Rose. “We are currently seeing consolidation within the brokerage industry, with larger companies devouring smaller ones. At The Agency we have reached a place of critical mass where global awareness is greater than ever. ”

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Boutique Real Estate Brokerage The Agency Aims for International Growth